Book Review: The Sound of Waves by ‘Kalki’ R. Krishnamurthy and Gowri Ramnarayan

Magnum opus explanations of ordinary lives

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Book Title: The Sound of Waves
Author/Translator: ‘Kalki’ R. Krishnamurthy and Gowri Ramnarayan
Published by: Hachette India

Book Review
‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy (1899-1954) was a Tamil writer and journalist from India, who is best known for his historical fiction novels set in the South Indian Chola Dynasty period. He wrote over 300 novels and short stories, many of which were serialized in popular Tamil magazines. Some of his most famous works include “Ponniyin Selvan” (Son of Ponni) and “Sivagamiyin Sabatham” (Sivagami’s Oath).

His works are known for their vivid descriptions of the culture and society of the Chola period, as well as for their strong characterization and attention to historical detail. He is considered one of the most influential Tamil writers of the 20th century and his works continue to be popular today. Kalki became famous again with the recent Tamil movie titled PS-1 which is based on his 5 part novel – Ponniyin Selvan, directed by ace film director Mani Ratnam.

The Sound of Waves by Kalki R. Krishnamurthy and Gowri Ramnarayan
The Sound of Waves by Kalki R. Krishnamurthy and Gowri Ramnarayan

Gowri Ramnarayan is the in-house playwright and artistic director of JustUs Repertory. Formerly deputy editor, and vocal accompanist to renowned Carnatic musician M.S. Subbulakshmi, Ramnarayan has authored original plays, children’s books, and a biography of M.S. Subbulakshmi. She has translated the plays of Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar, the short stories and biography of Tamil writer ‘Kalki’ R. Krishnamurthy, and served on the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury in international film festivals. Currently, she is the chairperson, Rukmini Devi Arundale Trust, a senior associate editor for Sruti Magazine, adjunct faculty at the Asian College of Journalism, and a freelance journalist.

Delving deep into “The Sound of Waves“, this is one of Kalki’s most well-known books. The book was first released in Tamil, and then it was translated into other Indian languages. The novel is set in the early 20th century and follows the story of a young man named Raja, who is a freedom fighter and struggles against the British Raj in India.

The novel is highly acclaimed for its historical accuracy and its portrayal of the Indian independence movement. The seaside community, its inhabitants, and their way of life are all vividly described in the book. It also looks at issues like love, tradition, and how contemporary India is evolving.

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The book’s evocative prose, strong characters, and compelling depiction of rural life have won accolades from critics. The novel, which is regarded as a masterpiece of Tamil literature, has received a considerable amount of attention and praise for how well it captures the sufferings of the rural poor. Overall, “The Sound of Waves” by ‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy is a moving and potent book that offers an interesting view into the life of the rural poor in India. It is extensively read and acclaimed for its depiction of rural life and is regarded as a masterpiece of Indian literature.

About the Author
Kalki R Krishnamurthy (1899-1954) was an iconic writer and a pioneer of modem Tamil literature and journalism. His induction into journalism was facilitated by his involvement with the freedom struggle. Beginning his career in the scholarly journal Navasakti and the anti-liquor manifesto Vimochanam, he served as the editor for Ananda Vikatan, before launching Kalki, the eponymous nationalist weekly

A prolific writer, along with novels and short stories, he churned out political essays, reformist propaganda, travelogues, music and dance critiques, film reviews, biographies, scathing satire, humorous essays, songs, poems, a film script or two, and translation, including Mahatma Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth.

Revelling in controversial debates on political, aesthetic, and ideological issues, Kalki used his writing talent to crusade for several causes. He had chosen the name of Lord Vishnu’s final avatar for the destruction of the world as his pseudonym because he was resolved to work towards a new and better world.

Today, Kalki is best known for his historical fiction, a genre in which he remains unsurpassed. He is the author of Sivagamiyin SapathamParthiban Kanavu, and the mammoth Ponniyin SelvanAlai Osai, which the author deemed his best work, documents the turbulent decades of the freedom struggle between 1934–1949, seen through the eyes of ordinary people who were inevitably affected by the socio-political changes.

About the Translator
Gowri Ramnarayan is the founder, in-house playwright, and artistic director of JustUs Repertory. Formerly deputy editor at The Hindu and vocal accompanist to renowned Carnatic musician MS Subbulakshmi, Ramnarayan has authored original plays, children’s books, and a biography of MS Subbulakshmi.

She has translated the plays of Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar, the short stories and the biography of Tamil writer ‘Kalki’ Krishnamurthy, served on the Fipresci Jury in international film festivals, and is now chairperson of the Rukmini Devi Arundale Trust, a senior associate editor for Sruti Magazine, adjunct faculty, Asian College of Journalism, and a freelance journalist.

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